By Jude Abanseka with inputs from Br. Joseph Wankui
Rev. Fr. Jervis Kebei celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his priestly ordination on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Regina Pacis Cathedral Small Soppo Buea, the ceremonial grounds he was ordained 25 years ago. It began with a heavily-attended Pontifical Mass with the Bishop of Buea Mgr. Immanuel Bushu as main celebrant and about 60 concelebrating priests from the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province and beyond.
He acknowledged that without God he would not have been inspired to join the Catholic Priesthood and said without God he would not have been endowed with the qualities and virtues to carry out his difficult, challenging but exalting mission.
The homilist explained thanking God is important in a Christian's life. "As humans, our thanks must follow God's grace. To give thanks does not mean to pay back a favour or give in exchange the same as one has received. Who could give God something in exchange?" He questioned
He continued, "To thank means to acknowledge grace, to accept gratuity, not to 'wish to ransom ourselves or give to God the price of our life' (Psalm 49:8). That is why it is a fundamental religious attitude. To thank means accepting ourselves as God's debtors and as dependents on God, letting God be God".
Fr. Kebei described the priesthood as a family in which "ties of brotherhood do not arise from flesh and blood, but from the Sacrament of Holy Order. You throw in your lot, for better or worse, with a particular bishop, and with a particular bunch of men."
He has therefore been working with God's people wherever the bishop sends him in various locations and functions. He therefore thanked God for the priests, religious, and lay faithful who God has assigned him to work with and for the way these people have touched his life and the positive influence his own life may have had on them.
He appealed to Christians to pray for priests because they need their prayers to lead Christians to God. About 38 Religious attended the event. Bishop Rogan College students led the liturgy.
Speaking to L'Effort Camerounais after Mass, Fr. Jervis Kebei pointed out that the most challenging moments in his priestly life are when he has misunderstandings with people he works with. "There were times when, in spite of my best intentions, people did not only misinterpret my actions, but some also deliberately distorted the truth. I mean, those moments when people have told lies to defame me. Such incidences abound in my ministry. They were only challenges, though. They did not threaten my vocation in any way."
Asked if he is satisfied with his work this far and what he wished for himself in the coming years, Fr. Kebei said after 25 years he was satisfied with his service to God and the Church. "I feel that I am a happy priest and spurred to keep going. I pray that in the coming years the Lord should give me good health and happiness."
Fr. Jervis Kebei was born in Small Soppo-Buea, South West Region, Cameroon. He studied in Regina Pacis Primary School Small Soppo and went to the BIROCOL Minor Seminary, Small Soppo, for his Secondary and High School Education.
He was later admitted to St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui, North West Region, Cameroon. The then Bishop of Buea, Mgr. Pius Suh Awa, ordained him for Buea Diocese on April 25, 1987. For the past 25 years he has worked in Fiango, Muyuka, Kumba Town, Kumba Mbeng, Bishop Rogan College as Rector, the University of Buea as Catholic Chaplain, St. Joseph's College, Sasse, as Principal, in Tombel as Parish Priest, and is presently working in the Catholic University of Cameroon (CATUC), Bamenda.